Eri’s Mystery Mixed-Up Sterling

Eri’s Mystery Mixed-Up Sterling

Introducing our guest blogger, Eri, and her gorgeous new-to-her ride:
This is Betsy Bobbin! Betsy was purchased from a lovely lady outside of Calgary, who posted an ad on Kijiji. The ad had no pictures, but I was intrigued. I sent an email, asked for photos, and once I’d seen that and the asking price I knew I had to have her. She was a mystery right from the start, and she still is. (Please note addition of adorable puppy in background!)
Originally red and cream with pinstriping, she recieved a very incomplete blue spray paint job, which didn’t cover a lot of the paint, and has chipped off. With nailpolish remover, we also took off some of the blue paint to see what was underneath, but in these pictures you can already see lots of the red.
Her headbadge: painted flat metal, same shape and rivet location as the CCM-built Garry. It reads Sterling, which was a late 1800s American cycle manufacturer, but in later years CCM did acquire the rights to a lot of famous brand-names. My guess is that they used the Sterling name for one of their store brands, but which one is anyone’s guess!
{Edit by Deb: see comment below by CCM expert John Williamson. This is not a CCM frame or marque.}

Star chain ring, fluted chain guard, cottered Made-In-England cranks, pedals marked CCM. I’ve seen this chain ring identified as being a ’30s or ’40s English part, however I’ve also seen pictures of it on CCM bikes from the ’50s. A leftover part from another manufacturer?
The chain guard is attached in an unusual fashion and has extra holes, perhaps to ease attachment to many different frame styles and sizes. Was definitely cream, the same as the fenders. The fluted surface of the metal is unusual, I haven’t seen it on any other bike images I’ve looked at.
Coaster hub with CCM imprint. This version of the logo seems to date from the early 1950s, but I’m having trouble getting a definite confirmation on that.
Canada Pat. 1937 (same as on Winnie), so obviously the hub was made after that year. This patent was definitely used into the ’50s and maybe even later than that.
Front hub labelled FALCON, 1/4 BALLS, MADE IN CANADA. Must be the size of the ball bearings, I don’t know if that’s standard or not. N00b alert! The other side of the hub has a little valve-looking thing that says GARLAND and has a patent number. Very appropriate, as her name comes from an Oz book.
A very old-fashioned kickstand. It’s a little wobbly, I’ll need to see if it can be tightened somehow.
IRC ROADSTER tires and white-pinstriped red-painted rims identical to Winnie’s. There’s a lot of blue spray paint on the rims, it doesn’t look like anything was taped off before painting.
The globe logo is the only marking we can find on the faded red rubber saddle. It likely matched the paint job when it was new.
The underside of the saddle, still no markings or stampings. The whole thing seems pretty unique to me, very collector-y. I’ll DEFINITELY be replacing the saddle with something that’s a comfier ride.

Weller or Wexler De Luxe Model 50 white rubber grips. Can’t quite read the mark that’s underneath. They’re CUTE! If I replace them with whiter ones, I will definitely still keep them.

The front fork is stamped TRU-WELD TUBE PROD… ENGLAND. When I take it apart for cleaning and repainting, I’ll be able to tell you exactly what it says!
The greasy grime in the oval depression on the unusual headtube hid a surprise…
…a hand-stamped serial number! This seems to correspond to a 1929 date for the frame. However, the front fork is far too narrow to be able to fit a balloon-tire from that time period – yet both have the same original paint job, suggesting they’re both original to the bike! Once again, was this bike perhaps built by CCM using some new parts and some leftover pre-war parts, some English and some Canadian, creating a Frankenbike that’s still all factory-original? Baffled by this, but very intrigued.
The front fork and fender provide clues to the original, classic red-and-white paint scheme. Inside of fenders and chainguard is still white. The pinstriping was gorgeous! There are a few other places where the striping shows, and it’s all just beautiful. It’s heartbreaking that someone spraypainted this bike.
On the underside of the bottom bracket, where the paint has chipped, you can see the gold undercoat that gave the burgandy paint its original lustre. Carefully wiping it with acetone nail polish remover to see if there were any stamped numbers hiding under there didn’t reveal any more identifying marks, but it did reveal more of the original paint colour:
…which is also visible under the curved upper tube where the repainter neglected to spray.
Here’s Deborah’s recommendation for Betsy: “She needs cleaning, rust removal, and perhaps a wipedown with acetone before sanding and repainting. She seems to be in good running order but needs a basic tuneup at EBC. I’d add a big vintagey chrome bell and a period-appropriate rear reflector.”
My plans of course start with that, because she knows a lot more about this than I do! However, I have deeper plans when it comes to repainting. I have my paint colours and scheme all picked, and will definitely share that in a future post!
Thanks to Deborah, Angel and Nicki for letting me join them in the world of Loop-Frame Love! I know I’m totally smitten already.

6 thoughts on “Eri’s Mystery Mixed-Up Sterling

  1. Eri: we need to take Betsy with us to go meet the local CCM collector (John Williamson) sometime – he’ll be able to tell you a lot more. John, if you see this, please comment!

    I just saw a rubber-top saddle on eBay, black with a faux-quilted top, made by Mesinger, that the seller says is from a middleweight bicycle – which I think means 1940s-1950s?

  2. Hi Deborah,
    There are only a few parts on this bicycle that were made by CCM. The front and rear hubs are definitely CCM, probably made between 1950 and 1955. CCM made “Falcon” hubs for many year, and these were available by the late 1930″s. The older Falcon hubs have oil holes in them. CCM pressed steel hubs similar to the Falcon hubs were already available by 1918. The pedals and handlebars on this bicycle may be made by CCM. All of the other parts were made by other manufacturers. The Crank and bottom bracket are British. The frame must have been made by some other Canadian company (there have been over 400 different Canadian bicycle manufacturers over the years). I am afraid that this is all that I can tell you about this bicycle – definitely not CCM though.
    John Williamson

  3. John – thank you so much! (Eri’s response when I told her your comment: “So my bike is a completely unidentifiable frankenbike! Wow!”) I wonder whether we are looking at an older frame with CCM replacement parts on it, then? I have updated the post to reflect that it is not a CCM marque so nobody gets confused.

  4. Hi Deborah,
    I just acquired a CCM bike (possible a galaxy or an imperial) and I’m hoping to restore it a bit. I have the same bad paint job problem, so I’m wondering if acetone was really that easy to do?
    And this mysterious John Williamson who seems to know all about CCMs… if you know how to find him, can you invite him to visit me at ?
    Keep up the great blog, I’ve been reading it on and off for a while, but now that I suddenly find myself with a loop, it’s much more pertinent. I’m off to search your posts for more paint stuff…

  5. @dokinchan – Love your blog! I discovered it a few weeks ago when I started researching for a trip to Japan that I’ll be doing in May or June… =D

    I’m afraid you won’t find much stripping or repainting help on our blog at this point, as we haven’t been brave enough to strip paint yet – it’s still on the to-do list for Nicki’s bike Winnie. But I did bookmark this conversation on stripping paint off bikes from one of the bike forums for future reference:

    I can tell you that acetone and cotton balls worked OK for cleaning small portions of Eri’s Sterling, but was fairly time consuming and took a lot of cotton balls – I’d suggest having lots of rags on hand if you’re going to try getting down to the original finish on an entire bike. The biggest advantage of it is that it’s a tiny molecule that will evaporate completely when you’re done, so it won’t leave a residue that can screw up a future repainting job. But don’t get it on any plastic or rubber parts of the bike (it might dissolve them), and generously relubricate anything you clean with it that needs lube. Also, wait for a warm day when you can do it outside so you don’t give yourself a vicious solvent headache. (I spent a lot of time working with solvents in fume hoods when I was a grad student doing lipoprotein biochemistry – trust me on this one.)

    I will contact John for you. =)

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